Lost Hiker on Mt. Hood near Mississippi Head
January 10, 2015
On January 10, the subject, a middle-aged man, was hiking above Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. He intended to hike to Silcox Hut and planned to return to Timberline Lodge around 6:000 p.m.. The subject was not an experienced hiker and was not well equipped for winter back country travel. He went considerably off course and wandered into the area near Mississippi Head west of Timberline Lodge at about 6700’. Lost, cold and faced with darkness, he called 911.
Around 9:00 p.m. , the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office requested PMR to help locate the subject and help him back to Timberline Lodge. The subject’s cell phone lost battery power, but his coordinates were obtained from his 911 call. There was some question about whether the subject was still traveling or remained near the location of his 911 call. So four search teams from Timberline Pro Ski Patrol, Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue and Portland Mountain Rescue were deployed in an effort to locate him. The PMR team entered the field around 1:00 a.m. on the morning of January 11.
At approximately 2:15 a.m., the Ski Patrol team made voice contact with the subject near the location indicated by his 911 call. He had taken shelter from the wind behind a large rock. They provided him warmer clothing and an ice ax, but progress was very slow due to the snow and ice conditions. When the PMR team returned to base around 3:30 a.m., the deputy in charge assigned them to deliver snow shoes and crampons to the ski patrol team, which they did. The Ski Patrol and PMR teams escorted the subject to Palmer chair lift where a snow cat picked them up and carried them to Timberline Lodge. All teams and the subject were safely out of the field around 7:00 a.m.
PMR often is called to assist hikers or climbers on Mt. Hood who were not properly equipped for their trek. Conditions above tree line on Mt. Hood can change from temperate to cold, wet and windy to raging blizzard in just an hour or two. We encourage all hikers and climbers to prepare for the worst possible conditions and to be equipped to stay out overnight.